Friday the 13th: The Game (Slasher Summer)
[EDITOR'S NOTE: As this is a special review for emagill.com's Slasher Summer, we are foregoing the usual Solo Gamer Review rules. At the time of writing, Friday the 13th: The Game is a multiplayer-only experience, and as such, would deserve a zero solo gamer score that would severely weigh down its overall performance. Instead of doing that, we at Solo Gamer Reviews are making a one time only exemption from the solo gamer score in order to give Jason Vorhees a fair shake.]
On paper, Friday the 13th: The Game is a no-brainer. It's an asymettrical online multiplayer game where one player gets to be the OP Jason hunting down seven other players, who are all meager camp counselors that have to band together to survive in any number of different ways. With level design ripped directly out of the movies--putting players at various iterations of Crystal Lake--music by franchise stalwart Harry Manfredini, support from the movies' producers, stunt capture by the legendary Kane Hodder, and a return of Tommy Jarvis, played once again by Thom Mathews of Jason Lives fame, it promises to be the definitive Friday the 13th experience. And if all else fails, at least it can't possibly be as bad as the notorious NES game that resulted in broken controllers around the globe.
|Every once in a while, it should be Corey Feldman|
When looking at the story for Friday the 13th: The Game, the first thing you'll notice is that it's practically nonexistent. Jason is hunting camp counselors around Crystal Lake, at the behest of his mother's decapitated corpse. He might succeed, or he might fail. Tommy Jarvis may or may not show up with a shotgun. The end. Seriously, that's the whole narrative.
There are some benefits to such simplicity, though. This is a multiplayer game, after all, and you don't want to weigh down the experience with a bunch of cutscenes and character development. Also, this is a raw Friday the 13th experience, and that's not a series known for its narrative depth. So, while it might be painfully simplistic, it's perfectly fitting for the kind of game this is. Still, every match starts and ends with the same boring cutscene, and that gets old very quickly.
[STORY: 7 - The streamlined story is more bare-bones than a med school skeleton, and while simplicity works for the overall experience, it needs more variety.]
|This'll show him|
Most of the time, players will fill the shoes of an unlucky camp counselor being hunted by a supernatural serial killer. You have twenty minutes to survive or make your escape, after which Jason will be called back to his shack by his dead mother. This is definitely not easy, however. You can scrounge for tools--a map, a radio, first-aid spray, a pocket knife, and firecrackers--nearly all of which can be found by opening every drawer you see. You can also go in search of a radio or phone (though the latter also requires you to find a fuse, because nothing works properly at Camp Blood) to call for help, which will net you Tommy Jarvis or the police. The police take five minutes to arrive, and when they do, they merely wait at a random exit for you to come to them. You can also repair and refuel a boat or car, which you then need to drive (or ride) to safety.
It's a frantic, panicky experience. The faster you move, the more likely you are to draw Jason's attention, but the more you hide in the shadows, the faster your fear level will increase, which means you'll make more noise. You do get to choose your counselor, though, to suit your playstyle. Some counselors are better at stealth and keeping cool, while others are better at speed and repair.
There are weapons and traps, and it is technically possible to defeat Jason. That said, it's very difficult to pull off, requiring a lot of cooperation among the counselors along with a fair bit of luck. You need Tommy Jarvis, for example, and you need a female counselor to find Jason's shack and retrieve his mother's sweater. You also need to be able to do enough damage to Jason to knock off his mask. However, Jason can take a lot of damage, and can very easily overpower even the most nimble of counselors. If you're not trying to defeat him, weapons do little more than slow him down slightly, offering you a brief window of escape.
Speaking of windows, Jason is incapable of going through them, and agile counselors can use that to their advantage. They can also barricade doors from the inside, which will slow Jason down, and they can hide beneath beds or in cabinets, though that's unlikely to fool the masked killer for very long. Inexperienced players can expect to die quickly and mercilessly, though death rewards them with a chance to spectate the rest of the group and learn more about how to survive the night.
-e. magill 7/6/2017
|THE UNAPOLOGETIC GEEK'S|